Tag Archives: science fiction

Infinitas Publishing Status Report – November 2017

All right, this time I’m actually going to get the status report done early in the month…

Does mid-month count?

Anyway, October was busy, and the beginning of November was even busier, so I’ve got a lot to cover. Either way, it’s that time again–time for a status report! 😀

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Pre-Writing Workshop at the CCCAC: I mentioned in the last status report that I was teaching a set of classes at the Copper Country Community Arts Center. I think it went well. My students all had great ideas they were fleshing out. I just wanted to give a shout-out to them and say, “Good luck with your novels!” 🙂

Glitch: I’ve gotten feedback from my second beta-reader, and today I start the process of incorporating that feedback into the final version of the mini-series. Once those tweaks are complete, it’ll be time to do the read-aloud (where Isaac and I try to catch awkward sounding sentences and anything we might have missed in the previous read-throughs).

After that, all that’s left is to prepare Glitch for publication. Formatting, finalizing book covers and blurbs… It’s just about done. Yay!

Fractured Skies: The huge overhaul of this manuscript has a been completed, adding in a whopping 40,000 words. The novel was 114,000 words before, and now sits around 155,000 words. That’s not including the scenes that we outright cut because they weren’t adding what we wanted. I think this version sounds a whole lot better. It fleshes out characters and goes a bit more in-depth as to what’s going on, and it connects the various plot pieces better.

Once I finish edits to Glitch, I’ll be re-reading through the revisions I made to Fractured Skies to make sure I like the changes and to see if there’s anything I can cut before I send it to beta-readers.

Distant Horizon: Like I mentioned last time, there’s a new cover in the works. Not much to update here, since I’ve been focusing on revisions of other books. I intend to have the new cover up before publishing Glitch.

The Multiverse Chronicles: On hold. I’m hoping to edit the various episodes during breaks between projects. Progress is slow, but hasn’t come to a complete halt.

Book Three of The Wishing Blade Series: I still haven’t come up with a name for this one. However, I’ve finished tightening the manuscript, so it’s ready for Isaac to read  once he has a break from his classwork.

I still need to outline book four, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of where it’s going. I just need to work out the details of how it’s going to get there.

Stone and String 2: I haven’t named this short story yet, but a little while back I started writing a rough draft for the sequel of “Stone and String.” I had to put it aside to work on other projects, but I’m now in the process of making revisions to what I’d already written. Once that’s complete, I intend to outline the rest of the story and complete the rest of the rough draft by the end of the month.

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration: A book cover here… a book cover there…

Game Development: On hold while Isaac is busy with his classes.

Marketing: This is a new category for my reports, but I thought it warranted a mention. I’ve been reading up various marketing strategies that are intended to help authors promote their books, and I’m hoping to develop a different newsletter for each of the different genres I write in (I’m currently thinking of having one newsletter for fantasy works, such as The Wishing Blade Series, and one for dystopian science fiction, which would encompass the Distant Horizon series and Glitch, and possibly the latest project I’ve been working on). That’s a development that’s still in progress, though, and I haven’t solidified these plans yet. (Though if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, we still have our overarching Infinitas Publishing Newsletter.)

NaNoWriMo Project: I mentioned in my most recent blog post about the Magic’s Stealing promotion that I had an all-new project I was working on for NaNoWriMo. My goal was to achieve 50,000-65,000 words in 12 days, writing in a world I hadn’t written before. Well, that’s been completed! (I’m hoping to have a more detailed post on that challenge soon).

General info… the novel (50,300 words) is a cyberpunk/dystopian retelling of Snow White from the point of view of the huntress (instead of the huntsman). The accompanying short story (11,600 words) is a cyberpunk retelling of Red Riding Hood.

I had fun writing it, and I’m hoping to start edits in December (after I finish editing these other projects). I’m hoping to write at least one more novel-length story in that series before releasing them.

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Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, sign up for our Infinitas Publishing Newsletter!

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That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed this post! 😀

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Infinitas Publishing Status Report

Time for a status report! Now that the move to Michigan is mostly complete (and I’ve finally gotten my car back after a run-in with the local wildlife), we’re slowly getting back into the groove of things. Still got a few things to take care of before we’re all settled in, but things are finally getting back to normal. 🙂

DH Divider

Glitch: I’ve completed the major edits, handed the manuscript to Isaac to check over, and have been working on his changes. Due to the structure of the story, we’re actually considering breaking it into three individual stories, each around 35,000 to 45,000 words long. They’ll rely heavily on being read in order, but should each have their own beginning, middle, and end. I’ve sent the first part to a beta-reader to see what she thinks. If we do split the story into three parts, we’ll most likely release each part around two-three weeks apart, so readers won’t have to wait long to read each book. With luck, we’ll be moving forward with this project sooner rather than later.

Fractured Skies: I’ve made the second round of major edits based on Isaac’s feedback from a year or two ago, and now I’ve handed it back to him to look through. It needs a bit of work in order to match it to the style and tone of Distant Horizon. But this one is certainly in progress.

The Multiverse Chronicles: On hold.

Book 3 of The Wishing Blade Series: Working on plotting. Once Fractured Skies is out to beta-readers, I plan to start editing what I already have written of this manuscript, then write the other half of the book.

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration: Finished one formatting project, now working on book covers. Not much new here.

Game Development: Trying to work out the kinks in a fantasy-based civilization building game. We have a few ideas, but we’ll need to test-play them.

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Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, sign up for our Infinitas Publishing Newsletter!

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 I hope you enjoyed this post! 🙂

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ConQuest 48 – Panels and Readings!

Hey guys, I’m excited to announce that I’m going to be sitting on a few panels at ConQuest 48 in Kansas City, Missouri! The convention runs from May 26th-28th (that’s this weekend), and it’s a great resource for fantasy and science fiction writers. Definitely an event to check out to gain all sorts of writing information.

If you’re going to be in the area, and you want to see me on a panel, these are the ones I’m scheduled to be on:

Saturday, May 27th

3:00 pm || How to over-think your way out of writing

5:00 pm || Fantasy and Science

Sunday, May 28th

10:00 am || Creating Languages (I’ll be moderating this one)

12:00 pm || Reading

Thus far I’ve been enjoying practicing a couple different selections I’m considering for the reading, and tomorrow I’ll be brushing up on the panel topics to remind myself of all the awesome things there are out there.

The times I’ve gone to watch the panels in the past have been really informative, and a lot of fun. Plus, there are several other authors and speakers there worth listening to. I hope to see you there! 😀

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Thoughts on Writing – A Use for Prologues

Writers often hear that they shouldn’t include a prologue in their novel. That, if necessary at all, the prologue should become the first chapter.

I’ll admit, though I’ve often attempted to write a prologue into my stories, I’ve usually turned back around and taken them out later at the suggestion of beta readers. Prologues are often a breeding ground for unnecessary info dumps that really would be better interwoven into the actual story. (Or in my case, prologues were excuses to bring in confusing characters that weren’t ready to be revealed until a bit more foreshadowing has been dropped into the story).

However, there are exceptions to every rule, and most writing rules are really more like guidelines that, if you know their purpose, can be broken.

For example, I’ve become a fan of the writing podcast, Writing Excuses, which is an excellent resource for writers who want to hone their craft. The podcasters of Writing Excuses cover many different topics, and one topic they covered was the effectiveness (and lack of effectiveness) of prologues. An example they gave of a useful prologue was the intro for A Song of Ice and Fire, in which the readers see an example of the monsters in the introduction long before monsters are shown again in the main story. (Note: I haven’t read A Song of Ice and Fire, so I may be misinterpreting their explanation.) The point of this prologue was to set up reader expectations and promises, to say that even though you aren’t going to see these monsters again for a while, they do exist in this world and the reader will see it again.

This is exactly what we see happen in Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie. The introduction begins with a dark ritual and an exciting, mind-bending fight between the antagonist and the Ancient One, and shows that there is a whole magical side to this universe that the viewer should expect to see later. The movie then launches into the beginning of the story for Doctor Strange, which has absolutely no magic, focuses heavily on a medical-science focus, and shows a rather self-absorbed protagonist. If the movie had not started with the prologue to show the magic that would come in later on, the viewer who simply started with Doctor Strange’s part of the story would be in for a bit of a surprise once the mystical stuff shows up (landing quite a punch for both the main character and the viewer). In the meantime, those viewers who wanted exciting action and magical sequences might have gotten bored and decided to skip out on the rest of the movie. Because of the promises made at the beginning of the movie, the viewer knows that if they wait around long enough, their patience will be rewarded.

A different use of prologues is to help set up foreshadowing that readers won’t see otherwise, at least, not until far too late into the story. (The trick here, it seems, is to make sure it is interesting and still drives the plot, despite a difference in time or perspective). One of my favorite prologues is from Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, which is a fast-paced sequence that introduces the concept of “epics” (those who use superpowers tend to go evil in that universe) and sets up the weakness of the antagonist, though it doesn’t explain what the antagonist’s particular weakness is until much later. It does a good job of setting up that this is going to be a novel where the main character is set on vengeance, and setting up promises and expectations for the reader. Another thing I enjoyed about the prologue in Steelheart is that the whole sequence is explained later by starting with the character’s explanation of the events, but cutting before everything is explained and going to the next chapter, allowing the reader assume that the story the protagonist tells is the same one from the prologue. Arguably, this scene could have been shown at that point in the story. But then it would have slowed down the main plot and the reader would have lost knowledge about the driving force behind the main character’s actions, something that helps the reader sympathize with the protagonist (whose original goal is more or less to uncover the weaknesses of various epics so he can assassinate them).

Thus far I have not yet used prologues in any of my published works, but that may change in the future if the right story comes along. What are your thoughts on prologues? Have you used prologues in your fiction? Do you have any favorite prologues?

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Thoughts on Writing – Developing a Fantasy Language (Interrogative)

For my short story, “Stone and String,” and for The Wishing Blade series, I’ve been trying to develop a functional conlang (constructed language) to add flavor to the world and for use as plot points. However, I ran into a problem… how do I ask questions in my Cantingen language?

See, I’ve been developing this over a period of time. Figuring out potential words and jotting them down for future use… figuring out a grammar rule (researched a whole slew of grammar rules from various languages to figure out the previous grammar rule)… and adding them to the dictionary as I go. I already had verb conjugations figured out (at least for an imperative style phrase in present tense), numbers, possessives (sort of) and adjectives. Apparently I already figured out adverbs, too, but hadn’t realized it. (And so I jotted that down, too).

But then it hit me that I hadn’t figured out how to ask a question in the Cantingen language.

I considered not having them use questions at all… then decided that would be just a bit too bossy for them. While word magic based on the language isn’t likely to use questions (though Isaac has challenge me to figure out how they might make it work) since it’s based on commanding magic to do what they want, the casual speaker is going to want to ask questions.

So I did some quick internet research on interrogative language stuff… (it may become quickly apparent that while I am trying to learn what the various mechanics are, I have trouble remembering the names for those mechanics)… and began formatting how to create the questions.

First off, I knew that I couldn’t use tone to imply that something is a question. That’s because word magic is intended to be read and still be clear… without the use of a question mark. I didn’t want to mess with swapping sentence structure around to make a question. And I didn’t want to inflect the verb in order to suggest that it’s a question.

Somehow, the result ended up reminding of an elementary school English lesson:

How does the dog run? The dog runs quickly. The dog runs how? Quickly.

And thus I decided on these rules:

  1. Questions are to be phrased so that the interrogative portion of the question replaces the who/what/etc portion of the question.
    1. (Ex. The dog runs how? vs The dog runs quickly.)
  2. To form a question, the who/what/etc suffix is attached before the word quéth, thus forming the phrase which replaces the part of the sentence in question.
    1. (Ex. nanlli mean “how,”quĂ©th indicates that the sentence is question. Together, they create nanlliquĂ©th.)
  3. Because the question is indicated in the sentence, there is no need for a question mark.
    1. (Ex. In English, it would look like the person says: “The dog runs how.” It should read flatter, without the rise in tone that a question in English would have. )
  4. Yes/No questions simply attach quéth to the verb in question.
    1. (Ex. hasil is “dog” and nivĂ© is “to run.” “The dog runs,” translates to Hasil nivĂ©tra. If you say “The dog runs?” in English, you would say Hasil nivĂ©traquĂ©th. in Cantingen.

 

The questions ended up looking something like this:

 

Who – ka 

Who is that girl? Edyli is that girl.

Kaquéth dratethol ali doran. Edyli dratethol ali doran.

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What kas

That sound is of what? That sound is of leaves.

Ali runin dratetha so kasqueth. Ali runin dratethtra so inarame.

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Whenvésa

We leave when? We leave soon.

Yliav vésaquéth. Yliav jano.

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Whereuru

The scroll is where? The scroll is in the box.

Kev dratethtra da uruquéth.Kev dratethtra da vari.

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Whyji

She weaves why? She enjoys to weave.

Walol jiquéth. Kaviol wal.

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How  – nanlli

She weaves how? She weaves quickly.

Walol nanlliquéth. Walol naf.

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Yes/No Questions

This is the girl I seek?

Éda dratetholquĂ©th doran somaria.

It’s still rough, and probably needs some polishing, but that’s what I have so far. It came in handy while working on The Shadow War. While there aren’t anyone asking questions directly in the Cantingen language, there are a few times when the main characters are speaking to people who are from the Cantingen Islands. Knowing how their primary language worked, I was able to change the sentence structure to add to the voice of those character.

For example, there’s a scene that takes place at the marketplace outside of Ashan.

The merchant bowed politely to the horses. She spoke softly in a Cantingen dialect, nothing Toranih understood, before finally turning to her customers and smiling. “Something attracts your eye?” she asked. Her Cirenan speech was articulate and careful, common among the Islanders. A rich blue sash wrapped around her hips and across her slender, bronze shoulders. Her dark hair had been pulled into loose curls and silver ribbons.

Daernan gestured to a pastry with a flaky, golden-brown crust, apricot paste, and streaks of yogurt frosting. “I’ll have that.”

Though I use the question mark here to mark correct English grammar, note how the question is phrased… “Something attracts your eye?” rather than “Does something attract your eye?” or “Do you see anything you like?” Theoretically, you could read it as a statement: “Something attracts your eye.” But if the merchant were to be speaking in the Cantingen language, she would use “quĂ©th” to designate the question. “Eliaved nicolquĂ©th naenlli.” (Literally, it translates to “Unknown sweet bread attracts your attention.” but the merchant knows enough Cirenan to phrase the question in a more familiar way).

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I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂 Have you tried constructing your own language, and if so, what problems have you run into?

If you want to read more about conlangs, I also have a post about Developing a Fictional Language (Cantingen) and Developing a Fictional Language (Maijevan).

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Thoughts on Publishing – Infinitas Publishing Status Report

Hello there! I’ve been super quiet for the past month, but don’t worry, that just means there are plans in progress! (And holidays… that took up a bit of blogging time, too).

So,  here’s the latest news, plus a bit of catch up on the previous month. I’ll keep it short, since I’ve got to get back to editing The Shadow War.

UCM Holiday Market (November 2016): This event went well. We sold a few of our Phalanx boards and a couple of books. It’s a local, one-day event that took place at the University of Central Missouri. It’s a lot of fun, and best of all, the booths are free. A current faculty/staff/student has to sponsor the booth, though, and since Isaac and I have both graduated, we want to give a shout out to Scott for sponsoring us. Thank you! 🙂

Distant Horizon: Distant Horizon has been gathering quite a few good reviews over at Goodreads. Thank you to everyone who has read the book and reviewed it. 🙂

Glitch: This is a spin-off novel from Distant Horizon (it follows Tim as he deals with the Legion Spore… a vessel made from a merging of shapeshifters and technology). Glitch is in the editing phase–tightening up the prose, fixing continuity from the earlier drafts of Distant Horizon… etc. It’s on temporary hold while I finish up The Shadow War.

The Shadow War: Isaac finished reading the The Shadow War and found several plot holes and mix-matched motivations I thought I’d fixed, plus pointed out issues that weren’t flowing along with the plot as I had described it to him. So I went back through and did some major edits, tweaking character motivation and reworking the ending. This is the main reason I haven’t been very active on the blog lately. I’m still making a few changes to the last chapters, but it feels considerably stronger than before. Overall, I’m pleased with how it’s coming along.

The downside of this is that I may be pushing back the ebook pre-orders to mid-March. I’m going to see where I’m at in my edits by the end of this weekend, and then I plan to post an update as to what the updated release date will be. I’ve been debating on whether to keep to the original date or push it back, and as much as I want to release on the original date, I’d rather wait a few more weeks and have time to do the fine-tuning and proofreading that will make for a smoother reading experience. The Shadow War is my major writing/editing focus at the moment.

Stone and String: Stone and String is now available on multiple platforms, so you aren’t stuck reading it on Kindle if you prefer a different format. Enjoy!

The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel: Still on hold, but I’m planning on returning to edits once The Shadow War is complete. I’d like to edit one episode a week until all of the remaining episodes have gone through a basic polish, and then I’ll send them to our beta-reader before continuing the release of the series online. In the meantime, the first fifteen episodes are up.

Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel: Isaac and I have been working towards a special edition of the game that we can have available at local events and conventions. We’ve started moving forward with that project, and we’ve got a surprise planned for that as well. I’m really excited about it, and I look forward to revealing more about that as we get closer to Stealth Con.

WIP Game: Isaac has been hard at work creating the art for a prototype version of our next game we plan to release. It’s still in the beta-phase, however. More information on that once we’ve ironed out a few more of the details.

SBibb’s Photographic Illustration:  Working on finalizing a book cover before creating a proof for another.

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with our latest book releases and promotions, sign up for our Infinitas Publishing Newsletter!

The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Now… back to editing The Shadow War!

That’s all for now, and I hope you enjoyed this post! 🙂

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Thoughts on Writing – Using a Roleplay Game to Develop a Novel’s Backstory

Now that Distant Horizon is out in the world (Yay!), I thought I’d talk a little about how the story came about–specifically, how a role-play game led to the creation of the backstory of Distant Horizon. Granted, a lot of the campaign stories aren’t visible in the first book,  but they still played a role in the backstory of the world.

It started in 2010…

Actually, no. Let me go back just a tiny bit further. It started with tabletop role-playing that involved a group of friends in college. We all lived in the same dorm, so we met in the evenings to play various games with different people taking the part of gamemaster. At times we had several games running throughout the course of the week. How late they went into the night depended on how early we had to get up for our first class the next morning.

I was introduced to RP games through the Savage Worlds system, starting with a fun-though-inevitably tragic (the sacrifice of my favorite giant zombie dog, Snuffles…) zombie apocalypse. I had intended to watch the other players while completing my physics homework, but before the game began, I was intrigued by the various miniatures and the gamemaster’s premade characters. He had extras, so I asked to join in.

The rest is history. I eventually decided to run a few of my own games. After the first failure (where I’d had a whole story plotted out… which was, of course, destroyed as players will destroy any plot by not going the intended direction), my primary games were a Star Wars game (I amassed quite a few of the RPG books and had them spread out across the table or floor during these games for reference), and a couple superhero games.

For the superhero game, I, Isaac, and a group of friends brainstormed what powers we might have. We placed the powers into four categories, then rolled a D4 (four-sided die) and a d10 (ten-sided die) to determine what our powers were. We fiddled with the system a bit (the base we used was Savage Worlds), and did a bit of “winging it” when determining how the powers worked.

Soon we had a team of well-meaning but absolutely terrible superheroes who caused far more destruction than good. One of them obliterated a bank robber’s head with sonic scream. (*Sigh. You were supposed to take him alive.*) One nearly electrocuted himself at a hidden night club after attacking a dancing mech. (Your job was to buy a special edition teddy bear from a vendor there, not assume the whole place was hidden front for a Japanese mafia.) One bent reality… (And he was the most sane of the group). The other kept getting distracted because he wouldn’t stop flirting (But hey, we need NPCs (non-player characters) who can help out with questions, right?). Needless to say, they drove their team leaders crazy… once by driving their car right out the top of the Super Bureau’s headquarters.

In relation to Distant Horizon, I can firmly say that these guys are part of the reason that the supervillains were able to convince everyone that the superheroes were the bad guys. But that story arc came later.

In a different campaign that ran about the same time, the superheros were a smaller team, and rather more effective at their missions… including to the point where they were sent to recover a set of special pendants that had strange powers, including the ability to slow time when four of the five pendants were in close proximity. *Cough.* These pendants make an appearance in Distant Horizon, as the most powerful members of the Community now have them in their hands.

In a different shorty-campaign that used the same power set but was run by my husband (mostly because I’d just had my wisdom teeth removed and I wasn’t in the mood to do much talking or heavy thinking), a group of airship pirates stole an airship and went through a few too many portals in attempt to uncover a precious jar of blueberry jelly… which might not have actually been blueberry jelly. They might be the reason the Community exists in the Distant Horizon universe. There was a lot of tweaking to that story arc, though the blueberry jelly reference remains.

In most these cases, there are a lot of seemingly random events (okay, it was probably pretty random even at the time), but it provided a rough basis for a background… one which Isaac later twisted and developed as the basis for Distant Horizon.

That being said, there’s a lot of stuff from the original campaigns that are not being included in the novels for the sake of plot and consistency, but overall, the games were a lot of fun and helped to build a semi-consistent world of powers. We could see which powers were broken (a much later campaign that used alchemy/enchanting proved where that needed a lot of fixing), develop out how different factions might interact, and then extrapolate from there to consider where it might go next. And now we have fodder to reference in regards to the origins of the world which can help enrich the setting.

Now, you won’t see much of these plots in the first book. Most of the characters are far enough removed from these events that all you’ll hear is an occasional reference. Still, it helped build the power system and let me drop clues that will become more relevant in later stories and companion novels.

Once I finish Little One’s story, (a Distant Horizon prequel I plan to work on after Glitch and Fractured Skies have been released) then you’ll see a lot more references to these campaigns. I had quite a bit of fun placing in those Easter Eggs in the rough draft. But that one also has a more quirky (though dark) tone than some of the other stories set in this world.

Isaac and I have continued to use role-play games to develop stories and worlds, but I’ll have to go into more detail about that in another post. For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this one. Have you ever used RPGs to help flesh out a story?

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